Archive for the ‘Gay’ Category

Quickie
March 29, 2008

kirk-douglas-and-john-travolta-kiss.jpg

Yes, that’s John Travolta and Kirk Douglas lip wrestling, but this post is about much more than curing the daily — Jim K wrote a quick review of my recent Dusie chap, Kiss Me With the Mouth of Your Country (send your address to amyhappens @ gmail dot com for a copy). And thank you, Jim!

For more sexiness, click here now!

~~

4 Responses to “Quickie”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    December 11th, 2007 at 6:08 pm eHeh…I dunno; I saw Travolta’s mouth drool a lot
    in “Battlefield Earth”.
  2. Amy King Says:
    December 19th, 2007 at 9:00 pm eHeh heh!
  3. Sara Says:
    January 2nd, 2008 at 9:29 pm eHi Amy, did I tell you yet that your new chapbook’s title is I think about the best I’ve ever heard? ‘Cannot wait to read it.

    It appears that John Travolta’s taste in men is even worse than his taste in scripts post-Pulp Fiction — this post reminded me of something I saw on 60 Minutes a few years ago: Apparently, Kirk Douglas had been on the show, and a few weeks later I was watching another episode in which they reviewed some of their mail. A few women wrote a letter together, saying, “If Kirk Douglas thinks women should be more like dogs, we think he should be more like a tree.”

  4. Amy King Says:
    January 4th, 2008 at 10:33 pm eI’m so glad you’re into the new chap, Sara! And yes, I think you summed Travolta and Douglas up… don’t get me started on his son, Charlie Sheen. Ugh.

    Happy happy to you and yours, Ms. S!

MTV’s Poet Laureate
March 28, 2008

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MtvU, the subsidiary of MTV Networks that is broadcast only on college campuses, will announce Monday that it has selected its first poet laureate. No, he doesn’t rap. And it’s not Bob Dylan, or even Justin Timberlake.

It is John Ashbery, the prolific 80-year-old poet and frequent award winner known for his dense, postmodern style and playful language. One of the most celebrated living poets, Ashbery has won MacArthur Foundation and Guggenheim fellowships and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his collection “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.”

Excerpts of his poems will appear in 18 short promotional spots — like commercials for verse — on the channel and its Web site (mtvu.com, which will also feature the full text of the poems). In another first, mtvU will help sponsor a poetry contest for college students. The winner, chosen by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, will have a book published next year by HarperCollins as part of the National Poetry Series.

“We hope that we’ll help discover the next great poet that we’ll be talking about for years to come,” said Stephen Friedman, the general manager of mtvU, which broadcasts at 750 campuses nationwide.

The idea of the laureate program was not to create more English majors, but simply to whet an appetite, said Friedman, a poetry aficionado since he majored in literature, philosophy and history at Wesleyan. Ashbery, he added, was the No. 1 choice to inaugurate the position. “He resonates with college students that we’ve talked with,” he said.

Ashbery, who was the poet laureate of New York State from 2001 to 2003, was immediately receptive. “It seemed like it would be a chance to broaden the audience for poetry,” he said.

The poems used in the campaign span his career, and the spots are simple: on a white background, black text floats in to a sound like a crashing wave, appears on the screen for a minute, then floats away. From “Retro” (2005): “It’s really quite a thrill/When the moon rises over the hill/and you’ve gotten over someone/salty and mercurial, the only person you’ve ever loved.” From “Soonest Mended” (2000): “Barely tolerated, living on the margin/In our technological society, we are always having to be rescued.”

The excerpts were chosen by David Kermani, Ashbery’s business manager, and two interns and an employee, all in their early 20s, in his office.

“We were just trying to pick lines that were catchy and sort of meaningful in some way, something that would appeal to what we thought younger people would be interested in,” Kermani said. These young people picked “things that had sort of raunchy references,” he added. “They thought it was sort of a hoot.”

Ashbery too was pleased by their choices, particularly because they reminded him of what was in his own canon. “I have a lot poems, so there are a lot of them that I don’t really think of very much,” he said. ( Ashbery published “A Worldly Country: New Poems” in February, and an anthology, “Notes From the Air: Selected Later Poems,” is due out in November.)

But will droves of young people respond?

READ ON @ International Herald Tribune

~~

4 Responses to “MTV’s Poet Laureate”

  1. didi Says:
    August 27th, 2007 at 5:33 pm ewell I am glad MTVu finally got on the ball. I have only been trying to get poetry into the hands of a younger crowd in the last two years on itunes for example.

    good for them. I wonder if this channel is available on itunes. I will look into it.

    d.

  2. Mark Lamoureux Says:
    August 27th, 2007 at 7:40 pm eTHANK GOD Ashbery got another award!

    Hey, we’re teaching at the same place this semester!

  3. Jim K. Says:
    August 27th, 2007 at 11:40 pm eTwo pieces of great news. All kinds
    of interesting possibilities.
  4. Ryan Downey Says:
    August 28th, 2007 at 3:36 am ei wonder if the contest is open only to undergraduate students or if it is open to any university student. if it is open to any university student then it is essentially the same as any other book contest. there are few realistic chances for undergraduate poets to be taken seriously in the poetry publishing world. i would like it if mtvu would post guidelines and some dates so i knew what i was working with here. “but will droves of young people respond?” i don’t know that there is a lack of young poets that were moving along just fine before mtvu became our advocate. droves is a terrifying word to me.

“Why Poetry?”
March 28, 2008

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An excerpt from James Baldwin’s essay, “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” (1979):

People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate. …

What joins all languages, and all men, is the necessity to confront life, in order, not inconceivably, to outwit death: The price for this is the acceptance, and achievement, of one’s temporal identity. So that, for example, thought it is not taught in the schools (and this has the potential of becoming a political issue) the south of France still clings to its ancient and musical Proven�al, which resists being described as a “dialect.” And much of the tension in the Basque countries, and in Wales, is due to the Basque and Welsh determination not to allow their languages to be destroyed. This determination also feeds the flames in Ireland for many indignities the Irish have been forced to undergo at English hands is the English contempt for their language.

It goes without saying, then, that language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power. It is the most vivid and crucial key to identify: It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity. There have been, and are, times, and places, when to speak a certain language could be dangerous, even fatal. Or, one may speak the same language, but in such a way that one’s antecedents are revealed, or (one hopes) hidden.

–from James Baldwin’s “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” (1979).

~~

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An excerpt from Paule Marshall’s essay, “The Making of a Writer: From the Poets in the Kitchen” (1983):

‘’If you say what’s on your mind in the language that comes to you from your parents and your street and friends you’ll probably say something beautiful.’’ Grace Paley tells this, she says, to her students at the beginning of every writing course. …

I grew up among poets. Now they didn’t look like poets – whatever that breed is supposed to look like. Nothing about them suggested that poetry was their calling. They were just a group of ordinary housewives and mothers, my mother included, who dressed in a way (shapeless housedresses, dowdy felt hats and long, dark, solemn coats) that made it impossible for me to imagine they had ever been young. …

Later, armed with the few dollars they had earned, which in their vocabulary became ‘’a few raw-mouth pennies,’’ they made their way back to our neighborhood, where they would sometimes stop off to have a cup of tea or cocoa together before going home to cook dinner for their husbands and children. …

The basement kitchen of the brownstone house where my family lived was the usual gathering place. Once inside the warm safety of its walls the women threw off the drab coats and hats, seated themselves at the large center table, drank their cups of tea or cocoa, and talked. While my sister and I sat at a smaller table over in a corner doing our homework, they talked – endlessly, passionately, poetically, and with impressive range. No subject was beyond them.

True, they would indulge in the usual gossip: whose husband was running with whom, whose daughter looked slightly ‘’in the way’’ (pregnant) under her bridal gown as she walked down the aisle. That sort of thing. But they also tackled the great issues of the time. They were always, for example, discussing the state of the economy. It was the mid and late 30’s then, and the aftershock of the Depression, with its soup lines and suicides on Wall Street, was still being felt.

Some people, they declared, didn’t know how to deal with adversity. They didn’t know that you had to ‘’tie up your belly’’ (hold in the pain, that is) when things got rough and go on with life. They took their image from the bellyband that is tied around the stomach of a newborn baby to keep the navel pressed in.

They talked politics. Roosevelt was their hero. He had come along and rescued the country with relief and jobs, and in gratitude they christened their sons Franklin and Delano and hoped they would live up to the names. …

THERE was no way for me to understand it at the time, but the talk that filled the kitchen those afternoons was highly functional. It served as therapy, the cheapest kind available to my mother and her friends. Not only did it help them recover from the long wait on the corner that morning and the bargaining over their labor, it restored them to a sense of themselves and reaffirmed their self-worth. Through language they were able to overcome the humiliations of the work-day. …

But more than therapy, that freewheeling, wide-ranging, exuberant talk functioned as an outlet for the tremendous creative energy they possessed. They were women in whom the need for self-expression was strong, and since language was the only vehicle readily available to them they made of it an art form that – in keeping with the African tradition in which art and life are one – was an integral part of their lives.

And their talk was a refuge. They never really ceased being baffled and overwhelmed by America – its vastness, complexity and power. Its strange customs and laws. At a level beyond words they remained fearful and in awe. Their uneasiness and fear were even reflected in their attitude toward the children they had given birth to in this country. They referred to those like myself, the little Brooklynborn Bajans (Barbadians), as ‘’these New York children’’ and complained that they couldn’t discipline us properly because of the laws here. ‘’You can’t beat these children as you would like, you know, because the authorities in this place will dash you in jail for them. After all, these is New York children.’’ Not only were we different, American, we had, as they saw it, escaped their ultimate authority.

Confronted therefore by a world they could not encompass, which even limited their rights as parents, and at the same time finding themselves permanently separated from the world they had known, they took refuge in language. ‘’Language is the only homeland,’’ Czeslaw Milosz, the emigre Polish writer and Nobel Laureate, has said. This is what it became for the women at the kitchen table.

It served another purpose also, I suspect. My mother and her friends were after all the female counterpart of Ralph Ellison’s invisible man. Indeed, you might say they suffered a triple invisibility, being black, female and foreigners. They really didn’t count in American society except as a source of cheap labor. But given the kind of women they were, they couldn’t tolerate the fact of their invisibility, their powerlessness. And they fought back, using the only weapon at their command: the spoken word.

Those late afternoon conversations on a wide range of topics were a way for them to feel they exercised some measure of control over their lives and the events that shaped them. ‘’Soully-gal, talk yuh talk!’’ they were always exhorting each other. ‘’In this man world you got to take yuh mouth and make a gun!’’ They were in control, if only verbally and if only for the two hours or so that they remained in our house.

–from Paule Marshall’s essay, “The Making of a Writer: From the Poets in the Kitchen” (1983).

~~

3 Responses to ““Why Poetry?””

  1. Jim K. Says:
    August 27th, 2007 at 1:15 am eA couple brilliant essays.
  2. Sara Says:
    September 3rd, 2007 at 1:11 am eHey Amy,

    ‘One of the best posts around, with something actually important to say — how refreshing when so many poets’ blogs, including mine, have really been diluted down to a kind-of just-to-stay-networked “game-ery,” ‘you know? You chose some brilliant essays that together are even greater than the sum of their parts. So per usual, Bravo!

    ‘Hope all is well,

    Sara

  3. Amy King Says:
    September 4th, 2007 at 3:32 pm eThank you both, Jim and Sara — I’m very glad you appreciated these. I love these essays and wish I had time to post from more …

    Cheers!

The Great American Love Story
March 27, 2008

ernest-and-louis.jpg

After Thirty Years …

As the day of Independence draws near, I realize it’s high time to look closely at a truly egalitarian relationship that is symbiotic, nurturing, and successful in the face of the great American obstacles regularly and historically hurdled by Ernest & Louie Clay-Crew. The story these two share touches on the traditions this country still battles and thrives on. Regardless of your race, class, orientation, geographic locale, or gender, you’ll find that Ernest and Louie have something to teach us all about dependence and independence.

A few excerpts follow below from their story, though it really ought to be read in entirety, and additionally, Louie maintains an elaborate list of poetry publishers that accepts electronic submissions for all of you poets out there. Thanks Ernest and Louie — “Oh while I live, to be the ruler of life, not a slave, to meet life as a powerful conqueror, and nothing exterior to me will ever take command of me.” — Walt Whitman

And Happy July Fourth to every citizen — “I am as bad as the worst, but, thank God, I am as good as the best.” –Walt Whitman.

~~

“Our marriage [2/2/74], like our courtship, has been conventional. It was love at first sight when we met at the elevator just outside the sixth- floor tearoom of the Atlanta YMCA [9/2/73]. Ernest was a fashion coordinator for a local department store, I a state college professor from 100 miles way, deep in the peach and pecan orchards. One of us black, the other white; both native Southerners. We commuted every weekend for five months. Our friends were not surprised when we decided to marry.

One could be too quick to sentimentalize a few details, such as our bed, a two-hundred-year-old four-poster built by the slave ancestors of one of us for the free ancestors of the other. Perhaps we were fulfilling their dream? Or Dr. King’s dream…? We find day-to- day living too difficult for us to negotiate other people’s dreams: we work at living our own dream, a dream no different from the dream of many other couples, a dream of a home with much love to bridge our separateness.

Our friends here for a long time wondered why we do not at least keep a lower profile by not mentioning our relationship. It is important to Ernest and me that our relationship is public. We are not in merely a sexual union, but in a complex coupling that integrates all our life together. Whether we are entertaining or being entertained, even when we are just shopping at the local Piggly Wiggly, it is important for us to know that we know that they know. We can even sometimes get into enjoying their games with knowing, as when the employees all dash behind the butchers’ one-way mirror to watch us wink at them when we pass. As Ernest puts it, ‘Honey, you may gloat, but we’re the stars!’

One of the lowest points in our marriage was an occasion when I asked Ernest, ‘If you get that job with the cosmetics firm in NYC, can I live off your earnings so I won’t have to stay here in Georgia the rest of this year?’ He did not answer. I waited out the long silence almost half a day, and then he said, ‘Did I ask you could I `live off your earnings’ when I moved here from Atlanta without a job first?’ I had momentarily lapsed from the more pervasive economy that our marriage effects. Were we autonomous, at each trysting we would come at each other unequally. I would be the wealthier, Ernest the younger; I the more experienced, Ernest the more spontaneous…. In marriage everything is given once and for all. For us marriage ended trading and introduced sharing. The money is ours. The youth is ours. The spontaneity is ours. And whatever is exhausted or whatever is incremented is ours.

My own neurotic compulsions with these middleclass perceptions have frequently inhibited my full enjoyment of our marriage. While I enjoy cooking, sewing, and more limitedly, keeping house, more and more my writing and my organizing activities have preempted the major portions of my energy. Ernest is a better cook, a much more efficient housekeeper, and an expert shopper. Once I came home late on a rainy night to find all the washed wet clothes in the refrigerator. ‘What on earth!’ I exclaimed. ‘Lord, chile, you sure be white tonight,’ he laughed; ‘I can tell your mama never took in washing. It’s the way to avert the mildew.’

My learning to enjoy my man’s househusbandliness as much as I enjoy my own is in many ways parallel to our enjoying all parts of each other’s anatomy. The first question most gay friends ask us is, ‘Which of you is the husband? Which the wife?’ We honestly have no way to answer respecting this dichotomy. We are not thus differentiated. We both like gentle perfumes, and we both like poignant funkiness; we both enjoy our gracefulness as well as our toughness.

We are not mirror images, however. Our careers are different and we do not compete. We make no special demands about productivity, but we are both aware that a marriage is dead when either fails to want to contribute. Ernest respects the summers I spend not making a dime but writing away as if I’ll not have another such season. I respect his taking off a year to go to school or his taking off time to do hair of women in the state mental hospital.

At the risk of being still more invidious, I suspect that of the many nongay couples who break up, many break up because society’s alleged supports of heterosexual relationships are falsely advertised and hypocritical. After the honeymoon is over, once the careers pull at each other, once Jan and John realize that their parents might even expect them to divorce, that their priest has divorced, that their friends and neighbors are too busy with their own relationships to care (except possibly for the value of self-congratulation that attends efforts to seem to care), non-gays choose to walk away from each other in bewilderment, or to remain together only by law. Gay relationships may be paradoxically blessed by not having the chance even to expect such support systems.

Ernest and I wrote our divorce contract at the outset: each would take half. We made our wills to structure property guarantees. We both own together all that each makes. We have had to make our own structures, knowing that major efforts would be exerted to deny even those plans. We have instructions about funerals, burials, etc.

We have had some few but very significant resources in our community, namely, in our friends. We are both gregarious and affable, and we are invited to many parties. Often he is the only black person or I the only white present, so segregated are the others in our community. We are avid dancers, and always do courtesies of dancing with our hosts’ spouses. Maybe some index of our integration is the fact that only one couple has ever said that we should feel comfortable to dance together at their parties, and even there the other guests do not have an ambience about them that would make us feel comfortable doing so. Also, our gay friends would be much too vulnerable for us to invite to gay parties any of our nongay friends.

In many ways we did not even anticipate, our coupling is itself our career, so much does it alter our professional expectations, our job security, our work climate, etc. Everyone knows that gay folks are reasonably harmless if we remain at the baths, the bars, the adult movie houses, the tearooms, and other such restricted areas. Ernest could have met a new Louie and I a new Ernest every night at the Atlanta YMCA for decades, and no one much would have bothered. Possibly a Tennessee Williams might have celebrated our waste, or maybe even a Proust. Certainly my priest would not have shouted, as he did recently, that we are ‘making a mockery of Christian marriage and the home.’ Then my bishop would never have written, as he did this week, ‘I am weary of almost constant pressure applied on this office by a movement which I do not fully understand, but which I wish to grow in understanding’–this while virtually telling me, probably his only regular gay correspondent, that I persecute him merely by calling attention to my needs and the needs of my people. Were Ernest and I still just tricking furtively at the YMCA, my students would see me as they used to, as the linguist, the rhetorician, the literary critic, the poet, the jogger–and not, as so often now, merely as ‘that smart sissy.’ It is only when we couple openly that the heterosexist culture marshals its forces against us.”

–From Two Grooms by Louie Crew

–Photos of the Renewal of Vows, 1999.

~~

“The poet judges not as a judge judges but as the sun falling around a helpless thing.” — Walt Whitman

~~

11 Responses to “The Great American Love Story”

  1. Helen Losse Says:
    July 3rd, 2007 at 9:56 pm eThanks Amy. I read the entire story. I have several poetry publication credits, thanks to Louie Crew’s poetry list. Their story is truly about a loving relationship and how to make it work.
  2. Michael Says:
    July 4th, 2007 at 12:44 am eExtremely moving in his discussion of how couplehood works and doesn’t work: Louie should be giving lessons to all who propose to live and love together. Calm, practical, and wise without showing off wisdom. May they prosper and be safe!
  3. Jim K. Says:
    July 4th, 2007 at 3:48 am eNice excerpting. People are people. -)
  4. Jim K. Says:
    July 4th, 2007 at 4:33 pm e
    ..that I persecute him merely by calling attention to my needs
    and the needs of my people.

    –This type of histrionic counter-argument is what I find most galling.
    That people asking for their own personal rights are oppressing
    other people by their mere asking. Maybe even by their
    mere presence. Not that you have or have
    not something within an institution….no: merely mentioning an
    issue is supposed to be an act of oppression against the majority.
    A rape-victim “oppresses” a Catholic ER because she wants
    a morning-after pill….this is cut of the same cloth. A cloth that
    hungers to make everyone the same, to control. Is the deal that
    you receive things by pawning your freedoms? Such a place
    cannot receive “public” support or patients if it truncates private
    life. This is not the big idea, on this, the day of our independence:
    The idea is that the the public trust was set up to assure private
    freedoms. Our Constitution is plain on this.
  5. Timothy Caldwell Says:
    July 4th, 2007 at 9:46 pm eWow, nothing like making me cry. Thanks for sharing this touching tribute to love and friendship, and also for the Whitman quotes.
  6. Unwicked › Amy King: Recommended Reading Says:
    July 4th, 2007 at 10:00 pm e[…] Amy King is a poet, teacher, and overall groovy person who I consider myself fortunate to have encountered in my travels. She has a post up today that dug right down into me and touched that heart of mine. Please take a moment out of your day or night to enjoy The Great American Love Story. […]
  7. yousef Says:
    July 5th, 2007 at 10:06 am eplz read my story . i am writer living iran. tanks

    http://yousefalikhani.blogspot.com/2007/07/gourchal.html

  8. Amy King Says:
    July 5th, 2007 at 7:32 pm eHelen, My sentiments exactly & I’m glad you read the whole account.

    Jim, Indeed, I despise the “you’re oppressing me” contention simply because others don’t “agree” with the way someone else is living or with the decisions that they wouldn’t make. I don’t even like the whole simplified notion of “tolerance” as such — I’ll tolerate you? Gee, thanks – does that only mean I don’t repel you enough to cause you to harm me? Thanks for the tolerance. Sorry to oppress you by not cloning or imitating you and your decisions, etc.

    Tim, You are one of the sweetest. I think you make NYC just a whole lot nicer for being in it!

  9. Jim K. Says:
    July 6th, 2007 at 2:31 am eTolerance is an eery word that has its origin in
    a freedom of thought. That is to say, someone is allowed
    to despise me, or believe that I will be tortured in eternity
    for not having their brand of mental sunglasses on, but that’s
    OK as long as they don’t mess with my life. A cold standoff,
    but a truce of thinking, as it were. We can’t tell people what to
    think, per se. We can talk about how they writh in pointless torment
    for being allergic to some natural things in the world, though.
    How they oppress themselves.
    The lingering bitters of “tolerance” are why a UCC church, for example,
    votes to be “open and affirming”, not “tolerant”. It’s not fair or loving
    to “tolerate” a marriage in a church: you must love and wish the best
    for the couple….as they are.
    For society, education and normalization are the best way to assure
    belonging. Your neighbor is still “us”, not “them”.
    Your article is about how wonderful and human two people are.
    It makes it hard to deny us-ness. About impossible.
    I wanted to come back to that so I didn’t monopolize things with
    a critique of hate-think. It is a very important story.
  10. Amy King Says:
    July 6th, 2007 at 2:47 am eJim, I love that:

    “It makes it hard to deny us-ness. About impossible.” Wish we could all start thinking that way … there needs to be a bumper sticker and a blog banner and and …

    Thanks!

  11. Collin Says:
    July 10th, 2007 at 11:00 pm eA brilliant post. Thanks for excerpting this, Amy.

Bouts-Rimés
March 26, 2008

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If you are my student, then you now know the weekend assignment will be to write a poem in the Bouts-Rimés form. You will also know that this idea struck me when I was flipping through the aforementioned Court Green donated issues. If you are not my student, you may want to explore the form anyway. Take a peek at the three that made my cut after a cursory read, please. And pay attention to the assigned rhymes, dear scribes; they’ll be yours!

~~~

“April Parade” hit the button because Camlot smartly mentions a film I love. In fact, I own it. It’s old and it’s called “Waiting for the Moon” and is a fictional glimpse into the lives of Stein and Toklas, tastefully and artfully done. Clever too. I love it. Plus, I like this poem, especially the breaks. And the references; yes, those too.

APRIL PARADE

Before I saw the film, Henry & June
(starring Uma Thurman as hot mistress
of Anaïs Nin), Waiting for the Moon
had been the lit-bio-pic I obsess-
ed most about. The ear-whispering, snake-
like sighs of Paris-exiled, bookish, smoot
h-skinned lesbians, well, that took the cake
as far as my understanding of beaut-
y went. But Uma, she was like Garbo
on steroids, or some über-King Kong play-
thing. But real, too: a neighborhood, Hobo-
ken Parade Queen walking home the next day,
still in her gemmed tiara and rhinestone
bustier, but smelling of Fireman’s cologne.

–Jason Camlot

~~~~

I use the collaboratively-written play and HBO film, “The Laramie Project,” regularly in a basic literature class. Therefore, this next poem stood out well and poignantly.

FOR MATTHEW SHEPARD

Here they are again, the bright bugs of June
flittering the evening away, sun stressed
struts holding up the barbed wire fence, the moon
wandering dangerously, half dark, obsessed,
an abscess spilled into the deep holes snakes
have dug into the spiked hills. What is moot?
The question of love? Figurines on cake
don’t care about gender, stuck on a butte
of icing, Gable y Gable, Garbo
y Garbo, any part an actor can play.
O Shakespeare didn’t care if a hobo
wore a dress, a crown, as long as the day
was long, lovely. Each word a cut rhinestone.
Each touch, kiss, a dab of perfume, cologne.

– Dorianne Laux

~~~~

Last, but not least, the next poem caught my eye because we analyze and dissect the tropes of Little Women in my Intro to Children’s Literature class. I love the main text for that course, incidentally. For awhile, I was using a traditional one that grew stale quickly. Then I came across this one by Perry Nodelman and Mavis Reimer. It approaches texts through a lit theory lens, boiled down but not dumbed down, that my about-to-graduate students are able to process with just a little help from me. Anyway, I read through this poem and enjoyed the twists. For your eyes only:

CABARET XXVI

Jo in Little Women was not really June
Allyson. She was an actress with the stress
in pretending to be someone else, like the moon
in ovulation that never came out, the egg in obsess
that was your archetypal blank, that nearly killed her. I was a snake
to write my name in the sand near the water, first letter, moot
pont between time and eternity, she grimaced. The yellow cake
uranium was a free forgery, the horse I rode on a beaut.

I want to be alone, I said, like Garbo
but a dull boy’s awfully hard to play
and there you were as certain as a hat upon a hobo
that sublimity’s just one part of the day.
Don’t be sad, then, because we lost the rhinestone-
in-the-teacup; it was Berlin that kicked our legs up, not Cologne.

–Lisa Fishman & Richard Meier

~~~~~~

One Response to “Bouts-Rimés”

  1. Tim Caldwell Says:
    March 21st, 2007 at 11:29 pm eI loved all three, and I adore Gertrude Stein. Too many reason why, but they’re all good ones.

On the Issues
March 26, 2008

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~~~~~~

“Homosexuals should relinquish their right to protect our country along with their right to earn a living wage for the able completion of such service. I mean, whenever I think of them doing the ‘do’, I get a funny feeling down deep, below the waist, and then my morals start to burn and ache.”

~~~~~~

“General Pace’s comments are outrageous, insensitive and disrespectful to the 65,000 lesbian and gay troops now serving in our armed forces,” the advocacy group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said in a statement on its Web site.

“I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts,” Pace was quoted as saying in the newspaper interview. “I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.”

“As an individual, I would not want (acceptance of gay behavior) to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else’s wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior,” he said.

In a newspaper interview Monday, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had likened homosexuality to adultery and said the military should not condone it by allowing gays to serve openly in the armed forces.

Of those who said they were certain that a member of their unit was gay or lesbian, two-thirds did not believe it hurt morale, according to the poll published in December.

–from the Associated Press

~~~~~

Speaking of how to use (& count the troops), killing willy-nilly for big business is totally on the moral highground, yes, Mr. Pace?

~~~~~

9 Responses to “On the Issues”

  1. CharlieJ Says:
    March 13th, 2007 at 5:17 pm eAn AOL News poll showed nearly 240,000 votes as of 1:00pm EDT. The margin is two to one in favor of SUPPORT for General Pace’s comments regarding gays in the military.

    How do you feel about Pace’s comments?
    Agree 65% (more than 156,000)
    Disagree 33%
    Not sure 3%
    Total Votes: 238,800

    I applaud General Peter Pace for taking the correct stand on this matter. His comments are right on target. There is NO REASON for him to apologize to anyone. His personal beliefs are his own and NO ONE need apologize for their personal beliefs. While I agree that he should be loving and respectful in his statements and (more importantly) actions, being forced to accept and celebrate the choice of homosexual behavior is NOT something anyone should be confronted with — military or civilian.
    These gay advocacy groups need to sit down and shut up! There is NOTHING “outrageous” or “insensitive” in what General Pace said in the interview. I listened to part of his comments. He was soft-spoken and respectful, but also firm in his resolve. Pace answered one question with a very straightforward and truthful answer, “The US Military’s mission fundamentally rests on the trust, confidence, cooperation amongst its members, and the homosexual lifestyle does not comport with that kind of trust and confidence and therefore is not supported within the US military. I’ll leave it at that.”
    Homosexuality *is* an immoral act. It is NOT natural, normal or moral. The lifestyle choice is rife with promiscuity, predatorship and infidelity — all matters that point to trust, confidence and cooperation. General Pace should be applauded for standing his ground and speaking the truth.
    I, personally, plan to be active in the fight against these homosexual advocacy groups as they seek to villainize General Pace. Here’s hoping you will join the fight as well. It’s high time conservatives (especially Christians) stand up for our beliefs and convictions.

  2. Jim K. Says:
    March 13th, 2007 at 5:49 pm eAmerican Taliban
    The epistemology is infantile.
  3. Amy King Says:
    March 13th, 2007 at 8:16 pm eAnd Charlie, you fully believe in imposing your belief system on every other person in the world, no? Until we eventually bow down to your god, your will, and your image. We shall all become little conservative Charlie robots, where no one executes any unapproved behaviors, and no one shall diverge from your cookie cutter replica of a “human”, no?

    This country was founded on the principles that no one shall force their belief system on anyone else, especially in the name of any god. You see, we can’t all be the same, Charlie, and in this country, there’re bound to be people who behave as we would not. In some cases, we might not even like the way they behave. However, the guidelines for controlling behavior (& establishing laws and policy) are pretty clear: as long as your behaviors don’t infringe on my permitted behaviors or hurt others, you are free to act and think differently than me.

    What gets me is that just because you don’t like what homosexuals do, even when it’s not done unto you (& even when you try to authenticate what you don’t like by labelling it your “moral values”), you think you have the right to banish such behavior **basically on the premise that you don’t like it.** So the fuck what? I don’t like the way you eat your cereal or fuck the person you fuck; I don’t think you do it well or properly, but that’s not my bag or concern to dig into and fix — because your actions are not about me, Charlie. And the hurried, tasteless way you eat your cereal or fuck someone doesn’t infringe on my life or hurt me in any way. Get it? Why do you feel the need to control homosexuality, Charlie? Why is homosexuality *your* cause, Charlie? Why is it about you, Charlie? Unless it actually is about you and what you’re trying to beat out of yourself …

    In my brief history on this planet, I’ve found it’s always the advocates of this type of “moralistic” behavior that are actually repressed homosexuals. And there’s not much that’s more dangerous than a repressed homosexual with a cause that’s personal-turned-public …

    So when does your crusade to save everyone begin?

  4. Amy King Says:
    March 13th, 2007 at 8:18 pm eOh and good thing AOL voters told us ‘what for’, Charlie — not like they’re speaking for actual enlisted men and women there, Charlie. Did you happen to catch the Associated Press poll that actually queries the viewpoints of enlisted military folks?
  5. Amy King Says:
    March 13th, 2007 at 8:23 pm eOne more thing, since I let your comment appear here — I just re-read it and really enjoy the way you characterize General Pace as “soft-spoken” and “firm”. That’s so sweet of you to notice! And very telling–are you sure you’re not in love?

    But really, what’s with this list of adjectives, “The lifestyle choice is rife with promiscuity, predatorship and infidelity — all matters that point to trust, confidence and cooperation.”? Heterosexuals can certainly be those things, just as gay couples can be and, as often, are not. Those are the hazards of any relationship, regardless of its orientation, Charlie. To tell yourself that it’s just gays who behave promiscuously is to live in a very naive world of “denial will get me the everyone’s-just-like-me vision I seek”.

    But the logic here re: “matters that point to trust, confidence, and cooperation”? What in the world are you trying to conclude? Or did you just throw those words in because you heard Pace use them and thought they sounded pretty and strong?

  6. Amy King Says:
    March 13th, 2007 at 8:48 pm eI just re-read Pace’s statement (& I promise, I’m leaving the computer after this), “We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior.” Since when does the military prosecute anyone for adultery??
  7. evie Says:
    March 13th, 2007 at 10:12 pm emy “morals start to ache and burn” when i hear that military personnel with injuries that make them unfit for service are being reclassified as fit, without real physical examinations, and shipped off to iraq. this is the case right now, at fort benning, and possibly other military bases as well:
    http://www.salon.com/news/2007/03/11/fort_benning/.

    as for sexuality, if everyone in the armed forces who has had premarital, promiscuous, adulterous, homosexual, or kinky sex (all of which i see as well within the range of “normal” possibilities, in terms of what most folks are likely to do [and should be left alone to decide about] in their lives) — not to mention everyone who has had incestuous, non-consensual, or pedophiliac sex (which are where i draw the line, because they are by definition about huge imbalances of power and destroying people’s relationships to intimacy) — if *all those folks* were kicked out of the armed forces, there wouldn’t be *anyone* left to fight.

    hmmm…..!!!

    peace,
    evie

  8. Michael Says:
    March 13th, 2007 at 10:31 pm eCharlie, I checked out your blog. Thanks so much! It gave me a new understanding of what it means to be a conservative Christian in the 21st century — an eye-opening lesson on how to read the New Testament in the light of the New Materialism. I had forgotten that Jesus had a wishlist of products he wanted, complete with pricetags. The table at the Last Supper must have been full of techie goodies!
  9. Kevin Says:
    March 14th, 2007 at 5:04 pm eOh geez! This Charlie dude just cut and pasted his comment from what he wrote on his blog.

    You’ve never been to this blog before, Charlie. I suspect you’re just watching Technorati and posting the same nonsense on every blog you find. (Hell, I’m not sure why I’m even writing this since you probably won’t be back to read anyone’s response to you.)

    Last I checked, nearly half of heterosexual marriages end in divorce. So, I’m not getting where you get this idea that heterosexual relationships exist in some la la land of perfection and morality. Wasn’t it your buddy Newt Gringrich that just confessed to having an affair while actively trying to impeach Clinton FOR THE SAME DAMN THING? But that’s ok because he’s heterosexual, a Republican, and he confessed, right? Where’s your outrage at a potential Presidential candidate who has admitted to infidelity?

    Yeah, that’s what I thought. Hypocrisy abounds.

I Bequeath Unto Thee
March 24, 2008

sailor-boys.jpg

Two excellent excerpts from Stacy Szymaszek’s fresh new book, EMPTIED OF ALL SHIPS (Litmus Press: 2005).

Thus begins my holiday campaign to encourage one and all to give the gift of poetry to their family, friends, and bosses — instead of predictably filling the list of their own prescriptions. Surprise them! And why not give them what they may not bump right up against, the most essential of all: poetry! Also, you are more than welcome to get on board here~

Happy Sailing!

_____________

…ballast

ceramic
Jesus
medallion
with chipped
features

contents
of a secret-
bottomned
drawer
yellowed
song lyrics
wax
phallus
mending
kit

Latin
dictionary
German
crossword
series
of curtailed
letters

my embroidered
misnomer
pouch
of dead
teeth
everything
from
China

guide
by a Polish
sailor
gold-plated
cabinet
handles
radio
apparatus

______________

…some mariners [excerpt]

the sail menders with hands

and feet repair into dawn

trailing bolts of canvas

maneuver fish needles in half light

reach top velocity in

pantheistic celebration

______________

let us not forget the restraints of

our vessel when in ash you enter

invertebrate sea

funnel into whalebone

form your love will seek

every plasm remembered

through my constant dream

–Stacy Szymaszek, EMPTIED OF ALL SHIPS

Sex: The Defining Line?
March 23, 2008

glass-house-bedroom-philip-johnson.jpg

First, a note on the bedroom pictured – it’s from Philip Johnson’s “Glass House.” Johnson was a brilliant architect (think “Lipstick Building”) and a closeted homosexual for much of his life.

Speaking of homosexuality, how is it possible this week we went back in time? Georgia and New York courts did, at least. We’re still opposed to gay marriages (are heterosexuals actually threatened? really?) while the rest of the world forges ahead and gets over it.

In fact, civil unions elsewhere have surpassed such blasé ideas as simply giving the LGBT community an opportunity to publicly validate long-term unions … now, just about anyone can attach themselves to another person – regardless of their sexual relations–even if they have none. Gasp.

If we truly relied on “marriages” defining themselves according to whether or not folks were sexually engaged, I have a feeling a number of heterosexual relationships wouldn’t qualify anymore, if you catch my catty drift. I’m just sayin’ … things fizzle. People take “breaks,” have extramarital affairs, become asexual, etc. — so when the sex fizzles, does that mean marriages automatically dissolve too?

Which brings me to my next point: civil unions elsewhere have much broader parameters, “Any two unmarried persons who want to live together can contract a PaCS, on condition they share common housing and are neither direct ascendants or descendants (mother, grandfather or child), nor too close relatives (brother, uncle or niece).” No clause in there stipulating sexual engagement on a per annum basis … two platonic lifelong friends may enter into a civil union as long as they live together (& presumably take care of one another).

The definition of “family” just opened up, friends. Thankfully. Many folks without lovers & who have not had the best parents just collectively breathed a sigh of relief … and may now even be feeling their living situations are valid and viable without the push to get married for life. Indeed, there are other options~

These unions also seem to have more appeal to heterosexuals now, “According to a French Parliament report issued two years after the law’s enactment, apparently about 60 percent of Civil Solidarity Pacts were concluded by heterosexual couples.”

What do the unions ultimately provide? Well, “…the PaCS gives same-sex couples legal, fiscal and social advantages they never had before.

And the overall effect of all this openness? Oh, something we could all benefit from, “… Despite the homophobic outburst it provoked, the PaCS unquestionably made homosexuality something ordinary.” In other words, an opportunity to finally just get over it.

Personally, I firmly believe the ongoing debate here in America is a ruse to keep us distracted from more important, life threatening matters, matters which are really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to considering the long-term effects of our country’s actions.

Does America really care if gay couples declare “we’re together”? I’m thinking not so much … but I’m an optimist.

________

And finally, speaking of positive things, “Play It Again” over at Dan’s spot — what a nice little note! Thanks, Dan~

9 Responses to “Sex: The Defining Line?”

  1. kevin Says:
    July 10th, 2006 at 3:12 pm e(are heterosexuals actually threatened? really?)

    yes. and you can’t stay with xstine & i in the fall lest you bring is into yer cult. (cult the right word?)

    i probably would’ve opted for the civil union given a choice seems more reasonable especially as god didn’t make an appearance in our vows and such

  2. Amy King Says:
    July 10th, 2006 at 3:54 pm eI always thought the same-sex marriage thing was a financial decision. Isn’t that why insurance companies are lobbying against both civil unions and marriage for same-sex couples?

    I’m also unsure of what Kevin wrote above, because it wasn’t exactly English, but I think I disagree.

  3. Dan Coffey Says:
    July 10th, 2006 at 4:43 pm eSpeaking of bad English, my wife and I were laying on the couch(es) yesterday, reading and getting over our hangs, and we had the MusicChoice cable tv “radio” on the 80s channel. They played a song by Bad English and John Waite was singing. I mused aloud, “Where the Hell is Tommy Shaw?” Then my wife reminded me that he was in fact the lead singer in that OTHER “supergroup” Damn Yankees.

    -Proud owner of #8 of 10 lim ed signed copies of Beat Roots by A Waldman/ill by G Schneeeeeeeeeman.

  4. Amy King Says:
    July 10th, 2006 at 6:45 pm eAmy King didn’t reply to Kevin above. Kevin replied as Amy King. His is a desperate call to join my cult, an opportunity which will be readied, Kevin. But be prepared: there are initiation rites. Of a most perverse variety. And after, you shall be Ms. Kevin and Christine King. Prepare the way. Tell everyone in Buffalo to hold on. Charge up the batteries.

    All will take place with a Leonard Cohen tenor.

    Isn’t Beat Roots new, Dan?

  5. Dan Coffey Says:
    July 11th, 2006 at 2:27 pm e“Isn’t Beat Roots new, Dan?”

    Yes, spanking brand. And yet older than the Upanishads if you feel me.

  6. kevin Says:
    July 12th, 2006 at 1:28 pm ethis civil union that you typed of, existing in france if i recall, is something i would’ve opted for given a choice as marriage, increasingly defined (or perhaps always was) in religious terms, doesn’t apply to the marriage ceremony we had as god wasn’t in our vows.

    that more clearerer? sorry, typing at work got me down.

    love,

    amy

  7. Amy King Says:
    July 12th, 2006 at 4:17 pm eI can’t tell who I am anymore.
  8. kevin Says:
    July 12th, 2006 at 5:50 pm eif yer not tellin, i won’t either
  9. Aimee, grrl w/ a sunburn Says:
    July 14th, 2006 at 8:21 pm ewho the hell is amy king!!!